Why is photography so important in our lives?

We all get just a few big days in our lives, really. Of course, every day of our life is special, and these ordinary days actually make our lives extraordinary – because even the most ordinary day can stay in our memory forever, whether we want it or not. But these big, special moments, such as childbirth or wedding – we want to capture each and every second of it, we want to remember everything we saw and everything we felt on that occasion and then relive these moments again and again.

 

But we cannot remember everything forever, as much as we’d like to! This is why people hire a photographer for important days in their lives – to preserve those loving moments and the memories of the people that surrounded them.

 

Mini Bee Photography specialises in newborn, maternity & cake smash photography in Newcastle, Durham & throughout the North East. I am one of their happy customers and working with Sam has been a great pleasure! Sam has such a creative mind and the photographs have captured the love and joy of these moments I want to remember for the rest of my life. We first hired Mini Bee Photography for our wedding and when we got the photos we simply could not stop looking at them. And they even get more valuable in our lives as the time goes by! I knew I was going to hire Sam for our newborn photography a few months later and this was the most amazing experience for us as a family. Sam is great with kids – again, very professional and patient; her work is simply amazing!

 

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And this is my way of saying thanks to Mini Bee Photography and Sam. I am so grateful that she has made our special moments even more special with her talent and creativity. I can’t recommend her enough and all of you who live in Durham or Newcastle and are thinking of hiring a photographer for a wedding, maternity or newborn photography, believe me, if you hire Mini Bee Photography, you will get the photographs that you will cherish forever!

Why should you have a contact form on your ‘Contact us’ page

Contact us page is one of the most important elements on your website. Contact form is a window which visitors can fill in to contact you, so it saves their time and thus contributes to a great user experience. 

 

Connect Insolvency Contact Form

 

 

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Convenience

Contact forms make it easier for the visitors to contact you. If your ‘Contact us’ page is easy to find, visitors will be taken straight to the contact form and will be able to contact you for any questions they might have without using their emails.

Efficiency

When potential customers contact via a contact form, you will make sure that their questions end up in the right mailbox, so the right person will be able to take over the communication. This will speed up the whole process and your sales cycle will go smoothly.

Clarification

Your contact form will have clearly listed fields that visitors will need to fill in. Some fields might be optional, some will be mandatory, but the visitor will not be wondering if they have provided all the necessary details that you will need in order to help them.

SEO

As we all know, Google prefers user-friendly websites and tends to rate them higher in search results. So, user experience is not the only reason why your Contact us page should have a contact form.

A few other things…

Other than that, contact forms make your website clean and more professional. There is a number of tools and plugins that you can use to install a contact form in an easy and simple way and I’ll list just a few of them: WPFormsGravity FormsNinja FormsContact Form 7 and many others.

Form 7 is the most popular contact form plugin in the WordPress repository and that’s what we’ve used for building the contact for a number of websites we have built:  Connect Insolvency, Abbey Masterbatch Ltd and many others.

Designing a perfect website for your target audience

Why is it important to design a perfect website for your target audience? It is not just because you want your customers, prospects and website visitors to have a perfect journey when surfing your website or to help them easily find and understand how your services help them overcome their challenges; it is more than that – you want your website to ‘speak your customers’ language’, the message it conveys needs to be in sync with your brand, mission, vision and industry.

Therefore, your journey of designing for a target audience starts with getting to know your audience.

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Identify your target audience

This step is about getting to know your target audience, knowing who you are building a website for. In terms of demographics, you need to know their age, gender, education level, culture and in B2B cases even a business industry of a typical customer. To put it simply, the most important task here is to find out who they are.

When the above questions are answered, you are all set and ready for step 2.

Research and Analysis

When researching and analyzing your target audience, you need to ask the right questions. The most important questions here are what they like, what they do, how to speak to them. You need to know what their values are and what is a typical behavior and preferences when surfing the internet.

To successfully complete the research and analysis phase, there are some questions about your product and service as well, i.e. what the main brand elements are – in terms of colour, font, styles, etc. Simply, what is the visual side of my brand and my future website?

Don’t forget to include competitor research in this phase! Try to learn from them, but also use this chance to differentiate your product and service. Turn their weaknesses into your own opportunities. There are so many advantages you can gain with this – both content-wise and design-wise.

Planning

Having gathered valuable information from the first two phases, you are ready to start planning. Planning is about incorporating what we have learned from the first 2 phases into your new website which is an extension of your business. It is about finding out how to answer your customers’ questions, how to respond to their (business) needs and of course – how to do it within predicted timelines.

Good planning saves you time and money and, in this phase, you need to decide on your website colours, style, fonts, etc. And don’t forget the images! It is known that human eye processes images quicker than words, so choose something that will look pretty and be relevant and interesting at the same time.

Think about the hierarchy of information since it is crucial for website navigation. What do you want your visitors to notice first? Is it a call to action button or is it your portfolio or recent projects that will help them find a use case? Whatever it is, make sure it stands out.

When planning is completed, you have come up with the content for your website. And you know exactly how this content will be presented – the visual side of it and the simplicity of website navigation.

Execution

When well prepared, execution is the easiest phase of this process. Now that you know who you want to speak to, what your audience’s preferences and behavior are, how you want to speak to them and what is the first thing you want to say to them – you are ready for the final step. If you have in-house designers and developers, don’t forget to involve them as soon as planning has started. If you want to outsource this project, make sure come up with a good plan for your website. A good webdesign company will be able to advise and provide some useful tips to make your website just perfect for your target audience.

Conclusion

We have been there and done it many times. This is not just pure theory, but a practice done many times and proven with a number of happy customers we have worked with. An example of one such project is the website we designed and built for J3 Building Solutions Ltd – a perfect example of a project well researched, well planned and more than well executed.

The difficulty of writing copy for technical subjects

technical writerSo, when it comes to writing about a complex or technically difficult subject matter, a certain level of research is required to ensure that the content you provide is clear, concise, and factually correct.

The technical nature of complex copywriting projects means that it can be extremely challenging for even the most competent and experienced copywriters to construct content that is fit for purpose, especially if they lack the technical subject knowledge and background.

The good news is there are lots of tricks of the trade you can use in order to produce high quality content that is accurate, engaging, and powerful.

Here’s our guide to the techniques you can employ to create content that inspires action, no matter what the subject matter. After all, a good copywriter should be able to write about anything.

Start by gathering all the facts

Before you start any copywriting project, you should always begin by gathering as many facts and information about the subject you are going to be writing about. Collect and review all source material for the project and highlight any major features or benefits of the topic, service or product you are writing about.

Go back to basics

If you’re writing about a subject that is difficult to understand or complex, children’s books or school-books can be an invaluable source of information. They tend to cover a whole host of subjects and are written in a way that is much easier to understand than adult text.

A high tech dictionary will also prove invaluable if you’re a copywriter that writes a lot about complex subject matters.

Interview your client

Before you put pen to paper, make sure you understand your brief inside out! Clarify anything that you are uncertain about and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

It can really help to get the information you need by interviewing your client.

This will allow you to get a clear idea of the service or product that your client is offering, and extract all relevant information you need to complete the project you are working on to the highest possible standard.

Oh, and although the majority of copywriters are perfectionists, don’t be offended if your client asks you to make amendments to the first draft. This is often happens when copywriters are working on technical content.

We have recently worked alongside The National Renal Complement Therapeutics Centre in order to design and develop their website from scratch and were responsible for overseeing the content creation for the website. This was one of the most challenging projects we have worked on due to the technical nature of the subject matter. The National Renal Complement Therapeutics Centre specialise in atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome, eculizumab, C3 glomerulopathy and offer advice on the diagnosis and management of these rare conditions.

However, we have worked on a wide range of website content, for a variety of different sectors, so we were able to confidently adapt the style and tone of the content so that it was fit for purpose. You can check out our work here.

Choosing the best writing style for your website

Your website should not only reflect your brand identity, values, and philosophy, but it should also inspire action through the choice of words you use.

After all, a distinctive style and tone will not only help you to set yourself apart from your competitors, but it will also allow you to inject elements of your brand personality into your website.

And in today’s overpopulated digital world, it’s more important than ever before that you finely tune all elements of your website, if you stand any chance of optimising your reach and maximising engagement levels.

Here’s our guide to choosing the best writing style for your website.

Choosing a suitable tone

When it comes to choosing a suitable tone for your website, it’s important that you consider the personality of your brand and how you want your audience to perceive you.

There are a whole host of tones that you can use to bring your website to life however, the right tone for your website will depend on your brand identity. This tone should be consistent throughout your entire website, and most importantly, it should be clear, concise and impactful.

Choosing a suitable tone is a key part of the creative process. Here’s an insight into the tones you can choose from:

Direct

A direct tone is often used by brands wanting to reflect a conservative and traditional personality. Powerful, clear and professional, this tone is often used to instill trust and credibility.

Of course, direct language can also be used to motivate and empower.

Energetic

Informal language is becoming increasingly popular as brands seek to inject a healthy dose of fun and excitement into their website content.

Perfect for inspiring action and grabbing your audience’s attention from the second they land on your site, this style of writing sparks engagement, leaving your audience excited about who you are and what you have to offer.

Friendly

From the moment your customers land on your site, your ultimate goal should be to make them feel welcome, which is why so many brands opt for a friendly tone.

A friendlier tone tends to work best for family orientated brands looking to inject a warm, welcoming, and pleasant style into their website.

Bold

When choosing a style of language for your website, you should take into consideration the age and demographic of your target audience.

This will allow you to establish a tone that your target market will not only resonate with, whilst also encouraging interaction. For example, if you are talking directly to a young audience, use language that’s on their wavelength and a style of writing that reflects current trends.

We crafted highly engaging content for both AG Events and Scan Time. As you can see, the style and tone was adapted accordingly to reflect the brand identity of each business.

Old School: 4 great young-adult school stories

An Abundance of KatherinesJust a century ago, stories for teenagers, or ‘young-adult’ novels wasn’t even something that was on many publishers’s radars at all. The general feeling was that children didn’t read. However, this expectation has shifted dramatically in the past three decades

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

YouTube-star and young-adult sensation John Green is no stranger to fans of YA novels. His books have recently been turned into Hollywood movies, whilst An Abundance of Katherines remains his most spell-binding book to date.

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

Twisted is a novel from Laurie Halse Anderson which examines the mindset of the typical American teenager. The story is told from the point of view of Tyler Miller. He was an average, overlooked high school student until the end of his junior year, where a graffiti prank led to him working all Summer to pay the fine for his misdemeanor. After the summer and upon his return to school, Tyler finds that the attitude of others towards him has changed, as have his muscles. I think Anderson has done an amazing job with Twisted. I was never bored and I sympathised with all the protagonist’s emotions and turmoil throughout.

Inexcusable by Chris Lynch

I’ve been wanting to read this book since before it was published. It’s about a high school boy whose girlfriend accuses him of raping her. Inexcusable is a challenging read but definitely an important book to help young adults navigate this confusing part of their lives, expecially when the boundaries of young-love can seem confusing to many. Keir (the lead) is a good guy. Or at least, he says he is. But some people seem to think differently. It starts to become obvious that Keir might be lying, and not only to the reader but to himself as well.

Luna by Julie Anne Peters

A controversial one this. Regan’s brother Liam struggles with the person he is during the day. Like the moon, Liam has chosen his female namesake, his true self, Luna, only comes out at night. This book is an amazing step forward in YA literature. Although you get a feeling for what the book is about by reading the back copy, sadly you don’t start to get the full spectrum of what this actually means until you reach the end of chapter one. Well worth a read this.


My thanks go to Furrowfield School. I spoke to somebody there during my research on this blog about the most loved young-adult books right now and they gave me some fantastic book suggestions to consider.

From A to B: stories of transformation

Gatsby_1925_jacketIn fiction, the Rags to Riches tale is one of the core basic plots of storytelling. Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are all some of the most popular examples of the archetype.

In the real world: rags to riches stories are common. Successful entrepreneurs who went from relative poverty or a challenging situation, to financial or personal success: Sir Richard Branson (Virgin), Sir Philip Green (Arcadia) and Mike Ashley (Sports Direct).

So, what is a ‘Rags to Riches’ story? This is where the modest and moral, yet downtrodden character achieves a great deal in the face of advertisty when their latent talents are finally displayed to the world at large.

In the real world this applies to anyone with a skill, ability or material which is not yet reaching its potential, due to a set of circumstances, sometimes beyond their control.

For businesses offering a produce or service, they often tend to play the role of the “Fairy Godmother”, giving the hero enough of a push to get to the right place and at the right time.

Some real world examples of businesses that offer such a service are construction companies Newcastle J3 Building Solutions who offer residential and commercial building services to assist you with your building project from conception to completion. On the digital side, web design north east provider Sleeky Web Design & Print who design fantastic websites for their clients, letting them tell their own story on the internet with a bespoke website.

In researching this article, I read the great book, ‘The Seven Basic Plot Types’ by Christopher Booker. A great read for anybody looking to learn more about the construction of fiction behind the veil.

So you want to be a builder? You should read these books about Construction

Sometimes, I just want to escape from society. On the weekends, I love to get outside and hike my way around the local countryside.

I’ve been thinking a lot about building my own property, or at least a small place to go to on weekends. Obviously, this is quite a large challenge. I’ve recently been looking for books which might help me reach that goal and teach me something about construction.

Below are some of the best books that I’ve found on the topic so far:


Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods by Joseph Iano

Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods by Joseph IanoWith over 30 different editions to date, this textbook is widely regarded as essential for construction engineers across the globe. The ‘Fundamentals of Building Construction’ continues to be used by thousands of students in schools of architecture, engineering, and construction technology every year.

Iano takes the reader on a long journey which starts with the types of nails used in basic construction tasks and ends with an understanding of the components of buildings and how they are constructed. Reading this book gives the reader the ability to stop at any site and have a fair idea of what exactly everybody on site is doing and what they have left to do.

Building Construction Illustrated by Francis D.K. Ching

Building Construction Illustrated by Francis D.K. ChingThis classic visual guide to the basics of building construction has recently been updated to contain the most up-to-date information. Building Construction Illustrated has provided outstanding introductions to the principles of building construction for students over the past 3 decades and beyond.

There are some who say this book has too much of a US-bias, but I think that this is a fairly decent read for anybody in the world if they want a more theoretical understanding of construction rather than just practical. you may want to be wary however that the measurements and units used in this book can be misleading.

Graphic Guide to Frame Construction: Details for Builders and Designers (For Pros by Pros) by Rob Thallon

Graphic Guide to Frame Construction: Details for Builders and Designers (For Pros by Pros) by Rob ThallonConsidered the standard reference in its field, this “Graphic Guide to Frame Construction” is the most well respected visual guide to building with wood. This is an invaluable reference for experienced designers and builders. Inside is a complete visual handbook for architects, builders, students, and anybody interested in wood-frame construction.

Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere by Zachery Klein

Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere by Zachery KleinNot a book about construction per sé, but, Klein’s ‘Cabin Porn’ is a chunky coffee table read which you can easily pick up and flick through when the mood grabs you. This book delves into the creation of wood cabins and guides you on how you might build your own. You get to experience your own mini-escape each time you flick through the pages.

The book is filled to the brim with photos. These photos are absolutely breathtaking and will no doubt fuel your wanderlust and make you want to take in the beautiful surroundings in your own cabin someday. The stories left me wanting to meet the amazing people who build these cabins and grab a beer with them.

The one downside is that this book is a little light on words, I wish there had been more tales from the author and the contributors about their journeys.


My thanks go to J3 Building Solutions, one of the best construction companies in Newcastle. I spoke to a few members of the team at J3 during my research on this blog, they gave me some great book suggestions to consider for my learning. If you’re looking for trustworthy commercial builders Newcastle, You can’t go wrong with J3 Building Solutions.

The Truth about Drug Companies- 4 great books about pharmaceuticals

There are a lot of publications and books out there about the pharmaceutical industry. Many of these can be quite negative in their outlook, particularly in relation to the American drug industry which has not had the best press in years gone by.

Below I have listed 4 of my favourite published exposés on the pharmaceuticals industry and why I think they are worth reading.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootHenrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is well known to scientists for her cells taken from cervical cancer. In her life, she was a poor Southern tobacco farm hand who worked to tend to the same land as her slave ancestors. However, her cells have created massive advances in the drug industry. However, they were taken without her knowledge and without adequate financial recognition.

HeLa cells were instrumental in creating the polio vaccine. Her cells have uncovered many secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects. They have also helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilisation, cloning, and gene mapping. Her cells have been bought and sold by the billions. All this and yet, Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.

In 1951, Henrietta was diagnosed with cervical cancer. During the biopsy, cell samples were taken from Lacks and given to a researcher. Henrietta’s cancer spread wildly, and she was dead within a year. But her cells turned out to be an incredible discovery because they continued growing at a very fast rate.

Rebecca Skloot has written this fascinating book which outlines exactly why Henrietta’s cells were so important and why her contribution to medicine went unrecognised for decades.

Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients by Ben Goldacre

Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients by Ben GoldacreThis book starts by suggesting that medicine is broken. We like to imagine that it’s based on evidence and the results of fair tests, but in reality, those tests are often miraculously broken. We like to imagine that doctors are familiar with the research literature surrounding a drug, when sadly much of the research is hidden by drug companies.

Goldacre has a way of making complex science subjects accessible to the wider public. What he reveals is frankly quite frightening. He describes the way that the industry hides a large majority of the trial data, the way that legislation requiring data to be published is ignored by many, and in the EU it is still secret in some cases.

Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine by John Abramson

Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine by John AbramsonUsing examples such as Vioxx, cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, Celebrex, and anti-depressants — ‘Overdosed America’ describes how at the heart of the current crisis in American medicine lies the commercialisation of medical knowledge.

I knew that America’s medical system was slightly broken, but I didn’t think that it was all that bad. The information here is a little dated now, but I still see so much of it going on in health care, at least from my perspective (I am not an insider).

The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It by Marcia Angell

The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It by Marcia AngellCurrently, Americans spend close to $200 billion each year on prescription drugs. As Dr. Angell powerfully describes here in her book, claims that high drug prices are necessary to fund research and development are unfounded. The truth instead is that drug companies funnel the bulk of their resources into the marketing of products which actually have questionable benefits. Meanwhile, as profits continue to grow exponentially, the drug companies brazenly use their wealth and power to push their agenda through government.

This book is frankly, indispensable. Angell exposes the lies of the big pharmaceutical companies use to justify the overpriced drugs they sell.


Remember: it’s importance to trust the supplier of your medication before you take it. My thanks go to Pharmacy Seekers who helped me to write this post. They helped answer my questions about the authenticity of drug providers. Pharmacy Seekers offer pharmacy sales and finance for pharmacy businesses to ensure that they are the most authentic and sustainable businesses that they can be.

3 Great books about Medication

Medication plays a key role in all of our lives. I’ve been reading a lot of books recently about the medical industry and how drugs aren’t all that can help us to recover from illness.

Below are three of my favourite books on the subject:

Med Head: My Knock-down, Drag-out, Drugged-up Battle with My Brain by James Patterson

Med Head: My Knock-down, Drag-out, Drugged-up Battle with My Brain by James PattersonMed Head is a book which describes how it feels to have a body that won’t stop moving. This is a well woven tale about how it is to be different from everyone else, to be made fun of every day and how to break free and take control.

This book is about Cory, a young man who narrates his life and describes how it feels to grow up with tourette’s syndrome. The story examines the huge affect this has had on his life. Med Head does an incredible job of explaining what its like to deal with a mental disorder.

Having suffered from mental and physical illnesses in my life, I feel that I know a little bit about what it’s like not to have any control over your body or your mind. I really connected with this book.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul KalanithiAt the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he is a doctor treating the dying, and the next, he becomes a patient who struggles to live.

Breath Becomes Air tells the tale of Kalanithi’s transformation from student into a neurosurgeon working on the core of human identity – the brain.

Tragically, Paul Kalanithi died whilst writing this profoundly moving book, and yet, his writing lives on as a guide to us all on how to survive in adverse circumstances.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul GawandeAtul Gawande uses this book to approach the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can improve life whilst also being used to bring about its end.

Medicine has really triumphed in recent times, transforming how we give birth, treat injuries and infectious disease – taking each of these from harrowing life-changes to manageable conditions. However, hospitals continue to isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of the cure are passed considering. Doctors, committed to extending life, spend time carrying out shocking procedures, that all to often extend suffering than reduce it.

It took me a good few months to discover the courage to read this book. I know that this seems strange to be scared of a book, but the topic of mortality, considered so heavily here, is so depressing that I put aside reading it. But I am so glad that I did. I would wholeheartedly recommend Being Mortal to anybody interested in learning more about end-of-life decisions… and please don’t be scared.


Remember: it’s importance to trust the medication you take. My thanks go to Pharmacy Seekers who helped me to write this blog. Pharmacy Seekers offer pharmacy sales and finance for pharmacy businesses to ensure that they are the best and most sustainable businesses that they can be.